Halloween Can Bring Tricks and Treats for Your Digestive System

by Alyssa Simpson, RD, CDE, CLT

October marks the beginning of the holiday season, when many find it more challenging to eat healthfully and avoid temptation.

It is especially important for those of us with digestive issues to enjoy holiday treats in moderation and to be knowledgeable and vigilant about our dietary needs. With a little planning and attention, you can maintain healthy eating habits and still enjoy the festivities and seasonal treats.

The main challenge with Halloween is the abundance of candy and other sweets that linger around for weeks before and after Trick-Or-Treating. To prevent your family from going overboard on sugar and help keep the calories down, consider these tips:

Find Healthy Versions of Treats
Substitute treats for healthy snacks. Replace the candy bowl with a bowl of fresh fruit and keep a shelf in your refrigerator stocked with healthy, easy-to grab snacks like low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and fresh veggies.

Portion Control
Avoid over-snacking by eating regular meals, drinking plenty of water and exercising. After Trick-Or-Treating, allow your kids to choose a small number of bite-sized candies per day, but limit them to this number and remember to take the leftover candy you didn’t hand out to work, donate it or throw it out.

Limit Temptation
Wait until the 31st to purchase candies and discourage yourself from eating them by only buying treats you don’t like. For example, if you like chocolate make sure to only bring home fruity candies.

Go even further and eliminate sweet treats altogether. Snacks like pretzels, crackers, popcorn, fruit leathers, pumpkin seeds, natural energy bars like Kind, Odwalla, Cliff and Lara, trail mix, baby carrots, or fruits dipped in chocolate or caramel are great substitutes for the traditional candy bar.

Get Moving
Do a scavenger hunt or throw a party instead of Trick-Or-Treating. If you decide to go out, limit the time spent collecting candy. Perhaps plan a route around your neighborhood with more walking and fewer stops.

Be Mindful of Your Dietary Needs & the Needs of Others
For most, and especially for those with symptoms of IBS, it may help to avoid candies made with high fructose corn syrup. Organic dark chocolates and other organic candies made with cane sugar like Endangered Species Chocolate Bars, Glee Gum, Alter Eco Candies, Yum Earth Organic Lollipops, are great alternatives. As are Cadbury varieties, Dove, Hershey’s, Hershey’s Special Dark, Heath and Skor Bars, Symphony Bars, Lindt Lindor Truffles.

Check NaturalCandyStore.com for a variety of candies including chocolates, gummy bears, jelly beans, lollipops and more. They also have an assortment of gluten-free Halloween candies.

A Gluten-Free Halloween
Persons with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must follow a strict gluten-free diet. For these individuals it is critical that the candy they consume be gluten free. Keep in mind that in some products, the ingredients themselves are gluten-free, but the candies are processed in a facility that also processes wheat. If this is the case, it will be indicated on the label. Ingredients and formulas can change at any time, so please read the label.

Gluten-Free Candies:

  • Baby Ruth
  • Butterfinger Bar (original only)
  • Raisinettes (including Cranberry, Dark Chocolate)
  • Laffy Taffy & Laffy Taffy Rope
  • M&M’s (EXCEPT pretzel & some flavors with cross-contamination risk)
  • 3 Musketeers Bars
  • Dove Chocolate products (EXCEPT for milk chocolate cinnamon graham or cookies & cream)
  • Snickers Bars (all)
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Dots
  • Tropical Dots
  • Junior Mints
  • Tootsie Pops
  • Sugar Babies
  • Almond Joy (all)
  • Mounds (all)
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar (1.55 oz. size only)
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds Bar (1.45 oz. size only)
  • Heath, Skor Bars
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (EXCEPT for seasonal shapes)
  • York Peppermint Pattie

Banana Ghost Pops

  • 1 cup dried shredded coconut
  • 6 raisins
  • 12 chocolate chips (mini)
  • 3 bananas
  • 1.5 cups of orange juice (You can drink it after you dunk the bananas.)
  • 6 Popsicle sticks

Preparation
Peel the bananas and cut them in half width wise. Insert a Popsicle stick into the flat end. Freeze for a few hours, then dip in orange juice, followed by dipping them in a plastic bag filled with dried (not moist) shredded coconut. Zip the bag closed and gently shake until the banana is covered with coconut. Place two chocolate chips for eyes and a plump raisin for the mouth. Eat right away or save for later.